Review: We Are The Best! at Live Theatre

The Swedish coming-of-age story makes its debut in the North East. But does it make the same splash in Newcastle's Live Theatre?

Carly Horne
8th June 2022
Bridget Marumo as Klara in "We Are The Best!" Image credit: @livetheatre on Facebook
The year is 1982, and we find ourselves in Stockholm, Sweden. The world is burning, but the audience at the school's talent show don't care. It's ridiculous and fever-dreamish in places, it's funny and heartfelt in others - it's Live Theatre's newest production, We are the Best!

From the perspective of championing local talent (and believe me, it was there in spades), Director Jack McNamara's decision to bring this production to life in Newcastle was a good one. The script is a mostly light-hearted one, and the energy of the actors maintains this throughout.

Anna Bolton in "We Are The Best!" Image credit: @livetheatre on Facebook

We are the Best! set the stage for the professional stage debut of Bethany Morris, Bridget Marumo and Elena Porter; taking on the roles of the production's three 13 year-old girls suffering the woes of life as an early teenager - feeling misunderstood and fighting to find yourself.

These characters keep the production light and funny, from their creative process (which seems to involve finding a rhythm with netball equipment) and celebrating their rejection by a mainstream audience. I sincerely hope we see more of these young actors on stage and screen alike.

Performances from the rest of the cast were strong, particularly from Anna Bolton and Stacey Ghent. Beruce Khan was also fabulous in his many roles throughout the production, especially as rocker-turned-youth worker, Johan, who just believes in the power of young people.

What becomes evident very quickly, however, is that there seems very little at stake (and actually, very little plot).

Bethany Morris as Boba in "We Are The Best!" Image credit: @livetheatre on Facebook.

The opportunity to explore the various areas of conflict in the protagonist's lives - Bobo's polarising experiences with her mother, Hedwig's upbringing in a toxic and religious household - was skipped over in favour of endless renditions of 'Sports are Shit' and a second half centred around arguments over a boy (who they later conclude smelled funny, anyway).

What this production had was potential to put a North East-twist on the issues experienced in growing up - exploring sexuality and navigating relationships, rebelling against the establishment and how difficult family relationships can be.

Instead, the production relied a little too heavily on humour at the expense of its plot. `Though the energy was light and funny, this sometimes bordered on cringe-worthy. And while I'm all for celebrating local talent, I just wish more had been done with the potential this plot had.

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